Work progressing behind the scenes on Canonsburg Lake bridge project

Barbara Miller

Scenery, wildlife and fishing at Canonsburg Lake appears much as it has for years, but work is going on behind the scenes for next year’s bridge replacement on McDowell Lane.

Last month, the Washington County commissioners noted the total project cost is expected to be $5,190,000.

Plans called for the project to begin later this year, but they are in the process of being changed.

“We are revising the schedule right now,” said Lisa Cessna, executive director of the Washington County Planning Commission, after a conference call with state Department of Transportation designers.

“The way the schedule was originally structured, they were going to be placing concrete in the winter months.

“SAI (Consulting Engineers Inc.) is revising the schedule right now and is probably going to delay when that bridge is closed. In the long run, it’s going to make the schedule go faster so people aren’t trying to take that detour in the dead of winter.”

The detour between Donaldson’s Crossroads in Peters Township and the Interstate 79 Northbound Canonsburg entrance at McClelland Road in North Strabane township will be 4.5 miles.

The latest plans call for a start later next winter with concrete replacement of the 75-year-old bridge in April 2021.

“This will impact the school year a little more than we wanted to,” Cessna said. “Plus, we also have restrictions with the lake when we can and cannot be in there.”

The county originally hoped to begin the bidding process by now, but “it will go to bid a little later this year,” Cessna said.

As to the recreational use of the 76-acre body of water, “in some phases of construction access is going to be essentially cut off,” she continued. “We’re trying to keep it as accessible as possible throughout the project.”

A small channel will be open at all times for an angler or boater, and the county is working with the state Fish and Boat Commission. Federal officials are also involved in the project because bald eagles nest lakeside.

The commissioners on Wednesday approved a $197,172 agreement with Mackin Engineering for construction inspection of the bridge across the lake.

Costs for that expenditure will be paid with 90.59% federal dollars with the remainder from the county’s liquid fuels allotment.